The public display was initiated by the church women’s group, Chapel Chatterers, at a meeting in September. Inspired by actions taken by other churches, the women decided to create an installation outside Hastings Uniting Church to voice their opposition to the federal government’s asylum seeker policies.
They cut out 197 miniature figures from foam to represent the 197 children currently held in immigration detention. These were stapled to stakes and installed in the lawn outside the church. A giant banner that read “Detention harms children” accompanied the installation.
Ruth Harridge is a member of the Chapel Chatterers. She said the women were proud to have created the display.
“Talking to one of our ladies about it, her comment was ‘We feel it is part of our social justice outreach to the wider community’,” she said.
Robert Graham, secretary of Hastings Uniting Church, said the public displays aim to start a conversation about Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers.
“We hope people seeing the display as they pass by will reflect on actions taken by the federal government and the plight of those held in detention, but in particular that of the children,” he said.
“Some feedback has come from children who thought it to be a Halloween display, and others who thought ‘detention’ refers to being kept in at school. Parents were thereby presented with the opportunity to explain what is really being depicted.”